George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General James Clinton, 31 December 1778

To Brigadier General James Clinton

Philadelphia Decr the 31st 1778


I have been favoured with Your Letter of the 5th Inst. and with Your’s & Genl Hand’s of the 28th Ulto. The One you mention of the 20th never came to hand.1

As the impediments which suspended General Schuyler from command are now removed by an Honorable acquittal—I have written him a line upon the subject of his resuming it, in the Department where he now is for the present.2 If this event takes place, you will till some new arrangement or disposition is made, consider yourself under his directions and receive orders from him accordingly.

With respect to Major Whiting’s application to be relieved—I have mentioned the matter to Genl Schuyler and he will give such orders about it, as circumstances will permit and justify. I have also mentioned to him the case of Lt Jonas Parker,3 and requested him to obtain a State of the Officers of the Regiment—of the vacancies and the periods when they happened, and to transmit it to the Board of War, who are to issue all Commissions in future.

I always hear of capital executions with concern, and regret that there should occur so many instances in which they are necessary. Aaron Williams appears to have deserved the fate he met with—and the service, from the number of desertions you mention in the York line, to have pointed to his early punishment.4 I am sir with great regard & esteem Yr Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, NNPM; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is docketed as having been received on 19 January.

1Clinton’s letters of 20 Nov. and 5 Dec. have not been found.

3Jonas Parker served from May to December 1775 as a second lieutenant in Col. Ebenezer Bridge’s Massachusetts Regiment, and for the duration of 1776 he was a second lieutenant in the 6th Continental Infantry Regiment. In January 1777 he began serving as a first lieutenant in the 7th Massachusetts Regiment; he was promoted to captain-lieutenant in October 1778 and commissioned a captain in June 1779. He was dismissed from the service in January 1781 for repeatedly overstaying furloughs (General Orders, 24 Jan. 1781).

4Aaron Williams, who had enlisted as a private in the 4th New York Regiment in December 1776 and was listed as deserted in August 1777, was tried on 1 Dec. 1778 at a general court-martial at Albany, N.Y., for “Desertion and Reinlisting in the Maryland Forces, and Deserting from them the Same Day under the name of John Miles,” and was sentenced to be “Shot to Death at the head of the Brigade” on the following day (Lauber, Orderly Books of the Fourth and Second New York Regiments description begins Almon W. Lauber, ed. Orderly Books of the Fourth New York Regiment, 1778-1780, the Second New York Regiment, 1780-1783, by Samuel Tallmadge and Others, with Diaries of Samuel Tallmadge, 1780-1782, and John Barr, 1779-1782. Albany, 1932. description ends , 4th Regiment, 50).

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